Producing a Recording Project
You’ve learned your way around the music industry a little bit, you’ve decided to try your hand at producing, and you’ve found a band or artist you think is worth recording. What now? What actually goes into producing a recording project? Obviously, the answer to that question can’t be found in one short article. However, a producer wears several hats in the recording process, and by understanding the various roles, you will be at least heading in the right direction. Here are some of the basic elements involved in producing an artist.
On the creative end, the producer is sort of a coach for the band or artist. To produce well, you need to allow yourself to become invested emotionally in that artist’s growth. Listen carefully to the band or artist’s work, and make suggestions for fine-tuning both the technical and musical elements of their performance. This will obviously happen with the songs you choose for the recording, but each song is a reflection of the artist. The producer sees the bigger picture, not just individual songs, and is helping the band or artist find their creative voice.
As the producer of the recording project, you make the final call on choosing the right songs for the record. If you’ve done your homework with the band, you will be able to determine which songs best showcase their talents and creative expression, as well as which songs (or sequence of songs) provide continuity to the record and make a cohesive musical statement. There are lots of criteria to consider; many times the producer and artist will weed through hundreds of songs looking for the perfect twelve to put on the record. The producer also oversees selecting and renting the studio and hiring additional musicians for the project.
Working with the recording engineer, as a producer you will oversee the execution of the recording. You will listen for errors in pitch and harmony, technical issues, and anything else that could lessen the quality—continuing to coach the artist to create the best performance possible and capture it in the recording. The good producer is meticulous about these, acting essentially as quality control for the music.
On the financial end, you as the producer are responsible to make sure the project is properly funded (by record labels or independent investors). You will also oversee the budget itself, making sure bills, studios and musicians are paid, and making financial decisions to make sure the project stays both on budget and on time.
If there is a record label involved, as producer you are the point-person between the band/artist and the label. You will walk the delicate balance between making sure your artist’s needs are properly represented to the label and making sure the artist is meeting the label’s requirements.
As you can see, producing a recording project is a complex process; but for the passionate producer, meeting these challenges is both fulfilling and invigorating.